You can now see the Challenger Map of BC at Vancouver Convention Centre

Nov 5 2021, 8:55 pm

A giant piece of the three-dimensional Challenger Map detailing the topography of British Columbia is now being temporarily exhibited at the Vancouver Convention Centre.

This piece of the map was moved to the publicly accessible East Building lobby of the convention centre — within Canada Place, beyond the Pan Pacific Hotel lobby — just last week, and it will remain at this location for free public viewing throughout the holiday season, until December 26, 2021.

While this section of map is impressive on its own, it is only a tiny part (4%) of the complete size of the Challenger Map. This is a piece of a part of the bottom section of the map, showcasing the topographic scale of the Lower Mainland and the southernmost tip of Vancouver Island. It accounts for eight sections of the map’s entirety of 196 sections.

challenger map vancouver convention centre

4% of the Challenger Map of BC at Vancouver Convention Centre. (Kenneth Chan/Daily Hive)

The entire Challenger Map details all of BC, with an area of over 6,000 sq ft — covering the equivalent of 1.5 average-sized single-family lots in Vancouver.

Using fir plywood cut into 986,000 pieces, it took George Challenger and his family over seven years starting in 1945 to make, and shortly after completion it was permanently moved to the Pacific National Exhibition (PNE) starting in 1954, until the controversial demolition of Hastings Park’s Fair buildings in the late 1990s. The map was then relocated in 1997 to a storage space of an Air Canada-owned, climate-controlled building at Vancouver International Airport.

The map is built to a scale of one inch to one mile horizontally, and to a scale of one inch to one thousand feet vertically.

The portion of the map now available for public viewing was restored and temporarily displayed at the Richmond RCMP detachment for the security operations of the 2010 Winter Olympics.

challenger map

People viewing the Challenger Relief Map of British Columbia in the PNE’s now-demolished BC Pavillion building. (City of Vancouver Archives)

challenger map historic photos

Challenger Map historic photos. (The Challenger Relief Map Foundation)

This past summer, the PNE signed a memorandum of understanding with the Challenger family to work together to bring the map home permanently to Hastings Park. This same small piece of the map was then exhibited at the 2021 PNE Fair

Fundraising is well underway on the restoration of the entire map, and the costs of its permanent installation, likely in the historic Livestock Barns of Hastings Park. The complete costs may reach about $1 million. The goal is to have the full map on display in time for the 2022 PNE Fair.

Kenneth ChanKenneth Chan

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